Quitting Is Not an Option

Domo-Kun in all his Splendor

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Can you believe that March is already upon us!? The spring semester is flying by, and, if it continues this way, summer internships will be starting before you know it.

I know many students have been searching for a summer internship for a couple of months now…or for those who started in the fall, for several months. If you are one of these students and you haven’t yet secured an internship, I can imagine that frustration might be setting in.

If this describes your current state of mind, here are some tips to keep you going:

  • Assess Your Progress. Are you getting interviews? Since the purpose of your resume is to land an interview, your resume might be in need of some help if internship applications are not converting into interviews. Scoring interviews but not getting the job? Your interviewing skills might need a little work. Make an appointment with one of our career staff in Career & Leadership Development for a resume review or “mock” interview.
  • Quantity vs Quality. Are you throwing your application at any living, breathing internship you find? A lack of focus in your internship search could spell trouble. Just as with a job search, there should be a verifiable reason as to why you’re applying for a particular position…and it shouldn’t be because it’s an “internship.” What career field do you hope to go into, or what are a few fields you’re interested in? Don’t know? Take a step back to figure this out before you do anything else.
  • Be Strategic. Are you only searching online job boards for opportunities? You could be limiting your possibilities. Networking is a key strategy to employ in your internship search. Hometown connections, family contacts, professors…this is only the beginning of your current network. Get the word out there that you’re looking for a summer internship, talk with people who might be able to offer the kind of internship you’re seeking, and possibly try to create your own opportunity.

Now for a reality check: You could use all of the advice above and still find yourself struggling to secure an internship. It happens. There is a lot of competition out there, and sometimes there’s nothing different you could have done. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

However, one thing I don’t want you to do is quit. The internship search is time consuming and challenging, and it’s all too easy to just abandon it in favor of an easier alternative. Resist the urge, remain persistent, and reach out for assistance.

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of February 21

Make It Work: Start Your Internship with Your Eyes on the Prize

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The new season of Project Runway started a couple weeks ago and I’m once again watching and wondering which designer will come out on top. I’ve loved the show from its first season, and one of the greatest things about it is watching ordinary people take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity. Whoever becomes the “next big designer” will have worked hard to achieve the win.

As you start your fall semester internship, act like you could be the next big star on Project Runway (or Top Chef, American Idol – whatever reality TV you like). If you work hard and take advantage of the opportunity that has come your way, the payoff could be great. While it is never a guarantee that an internship will turn into a permanent position, the possibility is there. Even if the internship doesn’t turn into a job with the same organization, the experience you gain and (hopefully) good references you earn will give you a leg up in the job market.

Increase your chances of hearing “You’re In” at the end of your internship by starting it with the following in mind:

Know the organization inside and out.

While it’s always important to research an organization during the internship search and interview process, it’s smart to continue being in the know once you start working. Now that you’re a part of the organization as an intern, you can take your research to new depths.

Network and identify potential mentors.

Hopefully, you will have a great working relationship with your supervisor. However, he or she isn’t the only person within the organization who could impart valuable insight. As you identify professionals whom you respect, attempt to build relationships with them. Networking is all about quality relationships, and the people you build such relationships with at your internship site become advocates for you within their organization and with others in their networks.

Find opportunties to expand your experience.

While you will have assigned tasks and responsibilities in your internship, take advantage of opportunities to go beyond your position description. Offer to help in areas where you believe you can add value. Make suggestions when you identify something that could be improved. You don’t want to overstep your boundaries as an intern, but you also want to demonstrate initiative and learn as much as possible.

Track your accomplishments.

Your internship will give your resume a boost, so don’t take chances with forgetting what you’ve done. Keep a daily or weekly log of your accomplishments. Future employers would like to see what you’ve accomplished in a past work experience, not just what your responsibilities were. Pick out three to five key accomplishments from your log to add to your resume.

Learn about the career field and about yourself.

There is a tremendous amount of knowledge to gain through an internship about both the career and about yourself. Critically evaluate your fit with the career and decide if it’s right for you. During the internship, you will get a glimpse as to the type of professional you will be. Not only is this wonderful personal development, it also serves as great preparation for any interviews you will have in the future. If you pay attention to your growth throughout this experience, you will have plenty of examples to draw upon come interview time.

 

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Why Are You Interested in this Position?

Why do YOU want an internship? I know that everyone, including me, will tell you that an internship can be a crucial career development experience with potential post-graduation employment benefits. But have you thought about your personal reasons for wanting an internship? If not, this would be an excellent time to ask yourself the question, especially if you are planning for an internship in the upcoming year.

An essential component of a successful internship is goal setting. An internship is a learning experience, so you should go into it with goals for what you want to learn. This is why it is important to understand your personal reasons for wanting to do an internship. What are you hoping to get out of it? Go beyond just, “I want to get some experience.” Be specific by answering questions such as, “What kinds of skills are you hoping to develop?” Once you begin searching for actual opportunities, you will be better able to spot the positions that might give you the experiences you want. Plus, come interview time, you will have an answer to the common interview question, “Why are you interested in this position?”